Letter from the New Editor
To readers committed to building the world we know is possible,
My name is Eric Santomauro-Stenzel ‘24, I use he/him pronouns, and as of Monday, October 24th, I am the Acting Editor-in-Chief of The Monitor. Madison Lazenby ‘23 has served in this role since summer 2021 with love and diligence, and under her leadership Monitor transformed from a little-known occasional political opinion publication to a multimedia, multi-section newspaper that has driven a significant portion of campus discourse over the past year. I am incredibly grateful for the path she charted, and hope to continue upon it.
First, I’d like to address some questions circulating right now. Why has Maddie stepped down, why haven’t we published in so long, and what happened with the Media Board/Honor Court case we published about?
Maddie has known she wanted to step down for some time for her own health, and stayed on to complete the case we brought forward. It’s not my place to expand beyond that (or yours to stop her on campus and ask if you don’t already know her), as she has opted not to publish a final letter at this time. In line with our constitution, Maddie asked for interest in the role among staff, and as the only individual who came forward, she appointed me for the remainder of the semester. We will have our usual elections later on this semester.
We’ve not published because the Media Board complaint sucked up so much of our time and several other members of our staff have also become overwhelmed by their other responsibilities on campus (hey, maybe we should have a mental health conversation about the unreasonable expectation that a full course load at Hamilton is intended to be 48 hours a week, 13 more hours than most full-time staff!). We prefer quality over quantity, and thus pushed back articles.
Last month, the Media Board utilized a new hearing process created for our complaint and voted that Spectator was not responsible for a violation of the Board’s guidelines. We stand by all of our claims and have substantial concerns about the process and how it unfolded, but I intend to address those concerns privately. Separately and looking forward, while still early, I am confident in saying that we made our point to College administration and that there will be discussions about the need for more comprehensive journalism education at Hamilton College.
So what now?
It is my view that Monitor’s role in these times is to articulate the human experiences of those facing repression and systemic discrimination, to serve not just as eyes and ears in our news section but as a booming voice in our opinion section. This past year or so, I feel Monitor has increasingly succeeded at this ideal, publishing articles addressing topics (often simultaneously) including race, gender, sexuality, accessibility, faith, neurodivergency, mental health, climate, labor, colonialism, abuses of power by governments, media, and this college, and more.
That doesn’t mean we’ve done it evenly and that every beat is getting as much attention as it deserves, however. It is my hope, and I’d like to think yours as well, that Monitor may one day grow into such a publication: a place of collective understanding and knowledge-sharing, a community of people being affirmed that their struggles matter too, a mutual exercise in understanding the ins and outs of power in our community, both in theory and practice. A space no one of us owns, but which all of us make whole. Partially because of luck, but primarily because of this commitment, Maddie and I have not rejected an article submission in our time here. We at Monitor welcome any pitches, submissions, or news tips at monitor/@/hamilton.edu (remove slashes).
As Maddie wrote in her beginning of semester letter to you back in August, “This year, we will continue to grow and offer our community – both on and off campus – an honest, thorough, and vigorous watchful eye on the powers that be.”
Someone recently told me, in reference to the Media Board complaint, that others often find my intense commitment to these ideals annoying, especially in a College context.
Many people engage in civil society here (and in general) out of other motives: a line on their CV, to make some friends, to learn skills for a profession, to get some clout for their progressivism. It has been the hardest lesson of my life that there is nothing I can do to convince others, especially within the overwhelmingly privileged milieu present at Hamilton (of which I am part), to take the ideals of this work as seriously as the small number of persistent advocates on this campus (past and present) have.
To be recognized, to be seen, is the goal of that approach. We will never be voluntarily recognized by those who occupy positions of historical oppressive power (literally and legally, in the case of unions on campus), but rather only by those who stand in partnership with liberatory struggle. It is through the love of community care and the power of refusal to participate in oppression, whether our own or others, that we win.
As long as I am editor of this publication, I commit to you that I will make every effort to uphold these values to the best of my ability. It is what I owe the staff of Monitor for permitting me to hold this position and to you as a reader placing trust in the words that I ultimately have final say over approving for publication.
While I don’t deny it would help me enter media professionally, I’m in this position first and foremost to continue serving the public’s interest in the current events which directly impact their lives. I cannot promise perfection, no one can and I’ve made corrections in the past, but I can promise you diligence, reflection, and an undying commitment to the moral and societal importance of our work as journalists.
That some will read this pledge and letter altogether as corny, over-the-top, and self-important is exactly what I hope to face down in my tenure: an apathy that instead of keeping one nonchalant and carefree, causes them to look down their nose at anyone who dares to challenge the status quo by attempting to uphold the values we claim to believe in at Hamilton, who is more bothered by the naming of our campus’s problems than by the problems themselves – as it was once colloquially known, the “Hamilton Cool.” Such disregarding disdain for open expression of belief in and action upon these principles proves that these values are just that: a claim.
I truly believe in the “meaning, purpose, and active citizenship” described in Hamilton’s mission statement, and I intend to “effect positive change in the world.” It is precisely this belief that has led me to this position of interrogating whether the actions of our institution and its proxies align with its supposed mission espoused in the thousands of pages of marketing material strewn across the campus and its media, both College and student.
I don’t have all the answers. So I appeal to you, that if you have ideas for how to confront the widespread apathy we see on campus, to improve our campus media, to engage students actively and thoroughly in the issues of our day, to commit time to addressing them, you let me know and we begin to work together.